Saturday, June 6, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Midnight on the Line by Tim Gaynor

On a whim I grabbed this book about the U.S. / Mexico border. It is written by a British journalist who spent time with those attempting to illegally cross the border as well as those trying to stop them. Considering the constant murmurs surrounding the issue I wanted to find out the details for myself.
Until I read this book I didn’t fully realize how much the atmosphere of the southern border has been altered by 9/11. The stiff security is not just a matter of the inconvenience of illegal immigrants, but also of protecting the country from lethal infiltration. Regardless, the reporter seemed to find a great deal of compassion among those enforcing the barrier, even among vigilante-type watchers, who volunteer to camp out and keep an eye on the Arizona landscape.
It made me feel empathy for the desperate ones trying to seek a better life—willing to put themselves through terrible ordeals to get inside the country we often take for granted. It also made me appreciate the challenge of trying to watch over an arbitrary line that countless people are trying to cross.
The whole thing has stirred up a darker side. The criminal element is severe. There is a constant flow of drugs—even through extensive and professionally engineered tunnels. There are those who help people across the border and then hold them hostage while demanding money from family members.
Memorable: a guy who literally got inside a van’s seat; unmanned drones that fly in the night using infrared; potential illegal immigrants surrendering to the authorities after trudging for days through a brutal desert, unable to go on.
No matter which side of the issue you may fall, this book is effective in reminding us that both sides involve human beings.

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